4

We have a brand new CFO (yay!) and he's a very successful businessperson with a down to earth personality. He's been with the team for 2 months, and has some wildly successful ideas that have really helped the whole team. I sort of aspire to be like him, and am shooting for further managerial responsibility and hope to one day have a C-suite position.

I'd like to ask him to be a mentor to me and help me to further my own career.

How can I ask the new CFO to be my mentor going forward?

  • What have you thought of trying and why do you think it's a bad idea? – scohe001 Aug 27 '18 at 22:36
  • 4
    Could this be better answered in "The Workplace" Stack Exchange? – Jason Desjardins Aug 27 '18 at 22:39
  • 2
    What's your distance in level, ie are you an intern, a senior staff person, his direct report, or something different? – baldPrussian Aug 28 '18 at 1:18
  • @JasonDesjardins I'm not looking for a workplace answer to the question, I'm looking for an IPS solution. I could ask on both, but it's equally valid on either. I felt the interpersonal aspect was more important here. – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Aug 28 '18 at 15:07
  • @baldPrussian He's my direct manager and we're both in the accounting department. Both full-time, both permanent employees. – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Aug 28 '18 at 15:08
2

How close is your working relationship with him? If it is close, then you can simply ask if he ever considered being a mentor and take the conversation from there.

If it isn't close, or if he says "no", you can simply attempt to emulate behaviors and have him become a defacto mentor.

What books does he read? How much does he read? What does he do with his spare time? What periodicals does he read? What kind of things does he as a key to his success? Why does he do this or that?

Asking him specific questions about his behaviors might help him be a good mentor and would simplify the process for him. For example you could ask him: "what specific advice would you give to a guy in my situation who wanted a c-suite position". He might answer: "get an MBA from a good university". That 5 min conversation would lead to an effort that might take 2 years of effort on your part. It also identifies you as a serious person and the relationship could develop from there.

2

I've had a couple of mentors in my career and I know people who actively engage with their own mentors.

First of all, successful people have a lot of people looking to them to be their mentors. So you're probably part of a long list of people. Your boss most likely doesn't have the time to respond positively to all these requests, so it's up to you to make it worth his while. The mentors I have had have all appreciated my efforts in that regard.

To engage successfully with a mentor, I'd first of all find a way to make his stress less (and not more). A pastor in my church had a guy volunteer to mow his lawn in exchange for mentoring. I don't think you need to go into providing free lawn care, but the principle is a good one: how can you make his life easier? That gets missed a lot. Part of that, especially in the workplace, is to be the best you can be at your job. If you stink at it, your boss won't be interested in helping you advance your career. If, on the other hand, you are excellent at your job and make his life easier, that makes the prospect of mentoring you more appealing.

Secondly, beware of the time commitment you ask of a potential mentor. You're looking for advice, not a career map. Weekly sessions with this person would be very draining to both of you and makes you seem incapable of working without your hand being held.

Determine where you want to go and what you think of the best path to get there. Mentors don't want to do your work for you; showing independence and the ability to do your own research will help a lot. The mentors I have had have all appreciated my efforts to improve THEIR performance, which led to their giving me more responsibilities and exposure to more interesting work. It was definitely a 2-way street.

  • What sort of terminology should I use when asking him, and when is a good time to ask? – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Aug 28 '18 at 22:51
  • Terminology depends on how your boss communicates. Is he direct? Does he speak indirectly? Does he tell you what he wants, or what he wants you to do? Those will influence what kind of verbiage to use. In personal relationships (and especially business), timing is EVERYTHING. You don't ask your spouse to make dinner when they're angry at you, and asking your boss to mentor you when they're having a bad day is also poorly-considered. I'd suggest planning that conversation, doing so after you've proven your worth, and doing this at the beginning of the day. – baldPrussian Aug 29 '18 at 0:26
1

Ask the same question yourself. Find someone with the same distance in level, who might ask you to help him out. How will you feel about it? What will be the right question?

Although in my opinion, being direct and honest is the best approach, it can depends from person to person. If he is a tough one, then you need to work on your behaviour & context first. Several things can help you in preparing the environment like wearing same style/types of clothes, going for lunch at same place etc. When you ask them for help and guidance, you need to be honest and pure. First you need to express your opinion about them, their professionalism and the knowledge they posses. Then based on this, you asks them to guide you through. If you don't feed like being direct, you can ask to be put in the same team/project or things like that.

I was also surprised how people are actually keen to help you, if you asks for it. I have done it in the past, and with those people I still have strong connection. I even feel very comfortable to talk with them on completely different subject or ask them for advice on how they do things in their life.

If you manage to succeed in establishing close relationship with him, keep that connection forever. Apart from the knowledge, those people are also motivation that can help you build your character further. Best of luck.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.